Review: Marcus Visionary – Soundman EP

Returning with his first full EP on his own label Inner City Dance, local legend Marcus Visionary drops an excellent six-track EP that showcases what he does best. Sound-killing around the globe, it’s no doubt that this whole EP has done the damage in Marcus’ sets let alone in the likes of Hype, Friction, Bryan G, and more. Featuring the vocal talent of fellow local legends Bandit Emcee and Keon Love, the Soundman EP is a collection of up-to-date jungle riddims that won’t be leaving your head anytime soon.

The Soundman EP kicks off with the lead track “Sound Dead Tonight,” an addictive tune that nods to the foundations of dub and jungle, but combined with the modern engineering of today. Opening with swinging steel-drum pads, a weighty snare, and the noticeably clean vocals of Bandit Emcee, “Sound Dead Tonight” spins back in classic fashion to engage the unmistakeable Baba Boom horns, fat bass-stabs, and rave-alarm samples that all come together in a smooth build-up. Upon the drop, “Sound Dead Tonight” does exactly what is says and rings out sound systems; murdering the dancefloor. A bouncing and vibin’ bassline accompanies Bandit Emcee’s vocals perfectly and although “Sound Dead Tonight” lacks the grit and distortion jungle can be known for, it’s a nice change to hear something so clean yet lethal. In short, expect yourself to be rinsing “Sound Dead Tonight” regularly upon release.

As if one lethally crisp jungle tune wasn’t enough, the Soundman EP continues with “Sound Killing Tonight.” Opening with cycling hi-hats and fat snares that quickly build to a dramatic bass-stab that engages the lush vocals of Keon Love, “Sound Killing Tonight” indicates exactly what it intends to do. Wasting no time, the emotions of Keon’s vocals combine with Marcus’ fat, crisp, and clean engineering to create a massive drop; killing sound like the way it used to be yet again updated with modern mixing/mastering technologies. “Sound Killing Tonight” continues to swing with its warm and fat bassline that moves between cracking snares and wonderfully filtered drum-fills; adding an extra amount of grit to really get people wrapped within the song. Marcus also does an excellent job in changing up the low-ends at the perfect time to avoid repetition and to remain interest in the listener. Overall, “Sound Killing Tonight” is another lethal tune that needs to be in your crate, wallet, USB, phone, car, etc.

At the mid-way point of the Soundman EP we’re greeted with “Good Vibes VIP,” a variation of a tune Marcus initially released on Inner City Dance last year. Taking a more laid-back approach, “Good Vibes VIP” again features the vocal talent of Keon Love and provides a breather from the prior dancefloor pressure. Oddly enough, out of the whole Soundman EP, “Good Vibes VIP” has the fastest bpm yet is the most relaxed tune of the entire Soundman EP. Again, Marcus’ ability to infect your head with swinging steel-drums, addictive vocals, a heavy bassline, and impressively clean percussion is prevalent; coming together to truly resonate how it’s “all about the good vibes.”

Following the good vibes, the Soundman EP continues with “Soundman Dub.” Deviating from what’s usually defined as jungle, Marcus lays down an interesting combination of dub-influenced samples with space-age keys to create a rather unique track. Opening with racing electric keys and steel-drum stabs, a simple yet addictive melody unfolds. Building-up to an absolute roller of a drop, “Soundman Dub” utilizes reverberated and distorted woodblocks to add depth, cracking rim-shots to add grit and weight, and racing keys to add urgency and tension. Picking up the dancefloor pressure from the first half of the EP, Marcus again ingrains his work into your brain with an infectious melody and tight percussion. Simply put, “Soundman Dub” is pure vibes and is another track you can expect to rotate heavily.

Nearing the end of the Soundman EP we’re introduced to Marcus’ ability to produce darker and more experimental tracks. Re-working a previous 140bpm bit he released for free last year, Marcus adds a Blue Note flavour to his track “Cold Sound.” If it’s not obvious to you right away what kind of sound Marcus intended with his Blue Note tribute mix…you should perhaps do some homework. Nodding to the seminal Sunday Nights that would inspire many of the drum and bass artists we listen to today, Marcus effectively captures the essence of the darker and reese-heavy vibes that were so legendary. Marcus not only effectively demonstrates what the term Blue Note entails, but adds his own flair and demonstrates his ability to remain versatile. Combining classic Joey Beltram stabs, lashing drums, ominous synths, and the warm dred-bass of the original, Marcus paints a picture that even Goldie would approve of. The bassline of the “Cold Sound Blue Note Tribute Mix” moves effortlessly and shifts weight in tandem with the heels of your feet, while the mentasm stabs, sharp fills, and cinematic synths move swiftly behind; hypnotizing your senses and effectively encapsulating you within the legendary Blue Note vibe.

The last track of the Soundman EP is “Dubwizer,” a more minimal and bass-focused production that trades the prominent ragga-vibes of the EP in favour for more tribal and techno inspired ones. Shifting your attention between all the elements that make up the track, Marcus progresses into the drop having built tension and combines the deconstructed elements upon the drop to create a tunnelling trip through dub’s very foundation. The bassline of “Dubwizer” doesn’t quit and only leaves the listener wiser in the sound of dub after listening in full. Congo percussion, soundman vocal samples, and underlying arpeggios all play off each other to create a near 7 minute hypnotization that rounds out the Soundman EP to great effect.

Overall, the quality and quantity of tunes within the Soundman EP comes as no surprise. As someone who’s a legend both locally and globally, Marcus knows what works. The Soundman EP touches on many different styles yet remains dance worthy entirely throughout. Marcus offers something for everyone on the Soundman EP and thus there’s no reason for you to not support this release!

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